Therapeutic Relationships: A Model for Effective Care


The therapeutic relationship is essential to a positive outcome when helping another person. In Therapeutic Presence; A Mindful Approach to Effective Therapy by Shari M. Geller and Leslie S. Greenberg, the premise is that the helper needs to have the whole self in the encounter on a multiplicity of levels. The model they propose includes:

Preparing the Ground for Presence

In life: philosophical commitment to presence, practicing presence in life and relationships, meditation and spiritual practices, personal growth, ongoing attention to personal needs and concerns

In session: intention of presence, clearing a space, letting go of self-concerns and issues, bracketing (theories, preconceptions, therapy plans), attitude of openness, acceptance, interest, and nonjudgement

Process of Presence

Receptivity: open, accepting, allowing, sensory/bodily receptivity, listening with a third ear, inclusion, expanded or enhanced awareness, extrasensory level of communication

Inwardly attending: self as instrument, increased spontaneity/creativity, trust, authenticity and congruence, returning to the present moment

Extending: accessible, meeting, transparency/congruence, intuitive responding

Experience of Therapeutic Presence

Grounding: centered/steady/whole, inclusion trust and ease

Immersion: absorption, experiencing deeply with nonattachment, present centered, aware/alert/focused

Expansion: timelessness, energized/flowing, spaciousness, enhanced awareness of sensation and perception, enhanced quality of thought and emotional experiencing

Being with and for the Client: intention of client’s healing, awe, respect, love, absence of ego involvement or self-consciousness

The authors believe that therapeutic stance supports the deep listening and understanding of the client in the moment. As Christian helpers, this book is useful to address a more holistic way of being with a client; especially addressing the life of the helper to reduce burnout, decrease anxiety, and increase vitality and joy.

(Part of the model was adopted from “Therapeutic Presence: Therapist’s Experiences of Presence in the Psychotherapeutic Encounter,” by S.M. Geller and L.S Greenberg, Person Centered and Experiential Psychotherapies, PCCS Books, 2002)


Kathy has experience as an elementary educator, teacher trainer, adjunct professor, and has served as Family Resource Director for a major hospital. Kathy is a Kentucky Licensed Pastoral Counselor and is credentialed as a Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor by the American Association of Play Therapy. She is owner of a private practice, Path of Life Ministry, in Wilmore, KY.